Rick and Monique

Friday, September 26, 2008

Completely Unoriginal Me

Did I tell you that we found Dutch Chocolade Vla in Denver a couple weeks ago? We did. Vla is pudding-ish, but a little lighter. We were so excited I can't begin to describe it. I never thought I'd see such a thing in the United States until an obscure tiny little Dutch shop kitty-corner from Cousin Riekje, owned by a true-blood Dutch woman straight from the Mother Country, carried the delectable treat to the U.S. God Bless that woman! But I got to thinking about my excitement...an emotion rooted in the memory of being in Holland with friends and family, enjoying conversation, laughter and gliding each smooth bite into a delightful part of history.

Monique made Dutch meatballs, mashed potatoes, peas and green beans the two nights ago. Our friends Byron and Annette Harrison and Linda Long arrived at our house two or three hours before dinner and we wanted to make them something special to celebrate their arrival.

Dutch meatballs...I'm not sure why they're particularly "Dutch" except that the mix of spices used are a particularly "Dutch" taste. I love them to be sure, and mixed with a lovely Cote Du Rhone, the feast resonates in memory.

We've experienced more changes than I can imagine. "Mawwage...Mawwage is what bwings us togethaaaa...today. Mawaage, that blessed awangement, the dweam within a dweam..." We quote our favorite movie "The Princess Bride" often and laugh. But Mawage...or Marriage is what brings Monique and I together daily. We wake new every morning but some things do not change. Some things are absolute. I got to thinking about Dutch meatballs and discovered something.

I'll get to the point through my own story. I'm my own man. I relish my ability to be unpredictable. Many of you have heard me say that before. I feel as if I am I guess. I love to be original. I like to discover new ideas, new tastes, my own humor, new actions, new experiences. Most certainly the last few years of our lives have been anything but predictable...then Dutch Meatballs wafted through the air into my nostrils.

Traditions hold lives together and give them meaning. I'm entirely irritated with "ists" and "isms" and other suffixes that elude to a similar meaning...Am I a Calivinist? A pragmatist? A protaganist? Am I a Lutheran or a Weslyan? No, I'm a CHRISTIAN! Duh. I'm a lot of things. However, before I throw the baby out with the bathwater (so to speak), I accept that men and women before me created new ideas about many that I should latch onto. Calvin and Luther were pioneers, Thomas Edison was a pioneer...I can't stop using lamps because I'm sick of history and wish to instead make my own path...I'm certainly not going to throw out a theological idea because I didn't think of it. History means something...I'm not entirely original. I'm at least partially an "ist" as long as I continue to test my "isms" with reality and change my paradigm when necessary. History gives me and my life meaning. I'd be no one if my parents hadn't taught me words, ideas, meanings, verses--all having their own historical significance whether they be embedded prolific printing press, archeological sites, or the paths walked by Christ himself.

I'm my own man, attached a tangible safety line filled with the things that make my life possible. I am original, there's no one who looks like me. But I've got blood pursing through my veins that hails from Nederland and with it comes rites of Dutch passage that include Vla, Gebak, and Dutch meatballs. Someone figured out long ago what makes them particularly good and somehow my mother-in-law inherited the recipe and thus my wife now makes Dutch meatballs. I'm so thankful now that I'm rooted and in some ways, completely unoriginal. Talented hands created an age old recipe the other night. Maybe she throws in her own two-cents worth from time to time and dabbles with the ingredients a bit...maybe...but I don't think so. She cooks Dutch meatballs a certain way, a time-perfected method. She fries, then boils, then spices, then cooks then...it's all there. Taste--always. Enjoy--absolutely. But life and thrill are much more than the experience of new things...they're only meaningful if the people and things and ways of life have meaning and the people, friends and family you love and who love you around you care....The people, ways and things give us history and meaning. My dad warned me never to disparage his good name, meaning part of me isn't original but rooted.

I am the completely blessed and unoriginal me.

No one is an island. One can't give today meaning if you don't tend to your foundation. Your friends won't care if you don't care about them and history will forget you if you don't give it mind. I think we enjoyed the meatballs and potatoes and enjoyed the company of friends, not because we were giving them something brand new, but because we weren't.

Think about that and get back to me will ya?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Inner Biker Dude and my Hot Biker Chick

Alright, I think that I can call myself a bicyclist...anyone who can do 500 miles in one week is an honest cyclist.  I think I can call myself a hiker...anyone who can climb mountains and walk several miles at a time in rougher terrain can be called a hiker (I even wore the backpack some of the time!).  As many of you know, we also own a scooter and a motorcycle and, until tonight, we were simply a couple of people who fired up the engines and took a few motorized two-wheeled road rolls.  

This evening I called my friend Dan about something and Dan, an avid motorcyclist worked his inner biker dude into the conversation and asked if Monique and I wanted to ride with he and his wife Stephanie.  I looked at Monique and asked, "Do you want to ride with Dan and Steph?"   She looked at me nervously, a crooked smile grew on her face, her eyes found their suspicious position and she said..."umm...maybe?"  I've heard that "maybe" before and that "maybe" meant "Dan's going to make us go fast and I'm going to pee my pants."  So I said, "I don't know, maybe."  But then Dan said, "C'mon, it will be fun."  A bike purchase comes with an "inner biker dude" at no extra cost.  My "inner biker dude" started an inner rally cry that I couldn't ignore and so I asked Monique one more time and she in her "holy toledo" voice said..."ok that's fine."  See, we also got an "inner biker chick" at no extra cost--a real deal if you ask me.  She's a capable rider already and so her inner biker chick stepped up to the throttle and lit a fire inside of her.  She showered up first...we had just returned from a 15 miles bicycle ride and now we were off again!  Dan and Steph showed up and it wasn't 10 minutes and we were ready to ride!  We fired up the Triumph, put 'er in first and headed out of the drive-way.  

Now, it doesn't take much to find a good excuse to ride the scoot or the motorcycle.  I could need to borrow sugar from my next door neighbor and I'd probably ride one of the bikes to their house.   But, I know Dan and Dan likes to get out of town.  But the issue with those out-of-town roads are the out-of-town speed limits!  We headed west and it was just a few ticks of a clock and we were out of town...fifty-five miles per hour...sixty miles per hour...sixty-one miles per hour...

You have to understand that Dan and Steph are old-hats.  They recently returned from a bike trip to Sturgis and eighty miles per hour might as well be 20 to Dan.  He took me out on a ride about a month ago and hit the interstate with me in tow.  That was the first time I'd toppled the fifty-mile-an-hour mark and we beat that by about 20 miles per hour!  I was seeing plaid.  I entered a new dimension.  SO, tonight the prospect of doing that again seemed daunting.  Sixty felt a bit fast and my helmet sort of buffeted in the wind.  I "white-knuckled" the first few miles at speed and I "white-knuckled" hard enough to create a skin-graft on my handle-bars.  But just when I felt my hands beginning to melt to the throttle, a funny thing happened...I started having a blarny ball!  The free "inner-biker-dude" that came with the bike talked me down--I relaxed and started to enjoy the ride.  I started to look around, can you believe that?  The world was less plaid and more auburn, yellow, red and green as the sun began to set...it was beautiful!  Monique and I have communicators so we started talking to eachother.  Monique's free-with-the-bike "inner biker chick" had her relaxed before my slow to the punch "inner biker dude" had me relaxed!  She was lovin' it and so we rode and we rode well.  We held the appropriate second position behind Dan and Steph and all in all we did about 50 miles out in the wide open Iowa.  We came to a slower car and at the point when I had resigned myself to following Dan around the slow-poke, the road split into another lane!  We had a lane for the slow-duds, and a lane for Dan and Steph and, by extension, Monique and I.  My inner biker dude injected me with courage and Dan ripped it up past the slower car and I drafted behind...it was ok, but was kind of one of those moments when fear clouded all vision except that part of the road that was within twenty feet of the bike itself...and it too was plaid...a plaid road, but a good, smooth  road!  We made it!  yahoo!  Thanks again to Dan who forced me to find another level in the annals of biker life. 

We ate in Adel, enjoyed their company and then headed for home.   The ride home gave my hands that sweet "melt-to-the-handlebars" feeling again, why?  We were fully ensconced into night time (it was 8:30-ish p.m.) and the road we chose to take us home told me I could throttle up to sixty-five wicked miles per hour!  Gulp.  I had a vision of my wife's "holy toledo" look and if it weren't dark outside I could've seen that I was well into "plaid world" again...gulp, gulp, gulp, breath breath...don't hyper-ventilate...the manual says "grip the handle bars firmly" not "melt the handle-bars to a nub."   But, it was another five miles and that free inner biker dude started paying dividends again.  The air was cool...more like cold but who's keepin track anyway?  Either way, the ride was priceless--my wife and I talked and enjoyed a ride in the sweet Iowa night.  Relax right?  I did, we did.  We couldn't see anything other than Dan's tail-lights but I had a beautiful motorcycle sunset in my memory.  It was a great great ride.  I would do it again.  

Dan and Steph, but I think especially Steph are consummate Harley people.  Steph absolutely loves being on the bike but she's thoroughly in love with Harley Davidson.  That being said, she's hilarious about this biker stuff.  She blurted "I'm so excited that you guys wanted to ride tonight!"  As if she need us to ride, she doesn't.  But she then said, "I know, I'm a dork!"  But I didn't think that way, Monique and I anticipated, then thoroughly enjoyed an opportunity to become true "riders."  Furthermore, we relished the opportunity to ride with our friends.  

Monique and I are geared up to the max--gloves, jackets, boots, helmets.  We don't have the bullet proof vests yet, but ya never know.  Either way, it makes us feel safer.  However, no matter how much you gear up or don't, the engine vibrating beneath your body, the engine firing well, the wind over the body...it's all very very cool.  

We're hooked.  The free stuff that comes from the bike have become priceless.  I get to watch Monique transform yet again (Her personal growth over the last 15 years has been astounding).  Dan and Steph are two of our good friends, they're really cool people, and we have yet another way to spend some time with them.  That's got to be a good thing.   It's a good thing except that it's an hour later and my hands hurt and they're still vibrating...I think next time I might not grip the bars so hard, although if I do my forearms will be ripped in no time...a little fear might be good for me yea?  Sweet.

I'm running out of titles.  I'm a cyclist, motorcyclist, scooterist, writer-poet, friend, husband, cousin, uncle, nephew, son-in-law, brother-in-law, brother, son, adventurer, hiker, patriot.  And now I come with a nearly new and totally free "inner-biker dude."  I used to believe that the coup-de-gras title might be "Dad" and that title would be pretty cool...maybe some day I'll know what that means.  But, I'm going to be content with the many spectacular titles God's let me and my beautiful wife wear...tonight me and my hot little biker chick are well aware of that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What side of eternity? We're back home

We rose out of Southern Colorado onto and over Wolf Pass.  The clouds hung over as if giving picture to the weight of thought.  Wolf pass--invisible to us as if another dimension lies on the other side.  Monique and I found truth in the imagery because the moment we passed through the Wolf's misty blanket, our road once again became about destination.  One almost heard the sucking noises as the life we knew for 2 weeks fell into history.  We lived a life where time was merely a flicker that lit the path to what would be an adventure.  Time's only signature revealed itself tellingly but simply in me in that each adventure changed me.  No one requests the fullness of time and experience without being profoundly changed in it. I'm merely living on one side of eternal life nestled in the hand whose grasp shall never waiver.

We rose again over the continental divide, the road clear once again except for the unbending choices in time...the same river flows to the Pacific and to the Atlantic...two directions and I choose neither.  A host of the wild tread those paths and a host of men will find it and time will do to them the same as I.  But we passed the east and west, heading to our own nest.  The wild takes no stock in my appearance with them or the lack of it.  My heart nests in the breath of my bride and we're connected to the place all men must be, with each other...more importantly with those we love...with our family.  Like in the hand of the Father, there's safety amongst those we love and who love us.  

The wild only performs as their Creator has asked of them and we were thoroughly with them there.  While we found ourselves profoundly aware of God and profoundly changed in Yellowstone, we're also profoundly responsible to take these changes to those who can see them, know them and use them.  It was exciting and peaceful to be with Mom and Dad in an inspiring week we will always know together.  We had a blast with Gerrits and Susie Kasper on a fantastic whirlwind two days.  I caught a Dodger game and a post-game beer with my brother Rob, and I spent time with Jess and my loving niece and nephew.  We enjoyed the company of Mom and Dad, Gina, Mike, Annette and Mitch and their beautiful children.  It's great to be my own kid again when the kids want to play zerbert, or football, or hide-n-seek, or ride a bicycle with me...but I love the time for much greater reasons than that.  We had fun and enjoyed conversation and connected as we should.  We were thrilled to see Anne Michelle and to be with her again and we were excited to see Dutchie and we're excited to be with all our friends at home.  We love being home again...simply because Man was never intended not to find rest, not to know a home, not to be found with loved ones...even in the places of the world where that seems impossible.  

It's sometimes frustrating to wake up one day to the next different than I was the day before.  Even a new cut on my finger signifies that I did something different yesterday from today--until I take stock of where I am on this side of eternal life...my role as a social, responsible, intelligent, loving, just human being.  The wiles of the wild nest somewhere between time and eternity and they die, but not in the psyche of those who were with them in their dimension.  Memory escapes time sometimes and I'm glad because I hope that's what it's always like living on any side of eternal life.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

There is a God, We are not Him

I thought it would be enjoyable to make a picture video of our Yellowstone Trip. There's an automatic effect on IMovie which causes each picture to move towards you and it's a little annoying but I couldn't figure out how to remove that auto effect! However, I sincerely hope that it does not adversely affect your experience.

I am going to make another video with another song about the other portions of this indescribable road to everything that proves I am not God.  For another perspective on Pagosa Springs, a week we spent with Mom and Dad Huizinga go to their blog.  But for now, the video below only includes Yellowstone National Park.

Words have their effect, but I hope you can feel a little of what we did through a song with one simple word. You'll understand.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Project Vacation Alleluia

We're in Pagosa Springs Colorado and staying at a Wyndam Resort which is part of Mom and Dad Huizinga's world-wide Time Share capabilities.  I look out over a small lake into the San Juan mountains in the cool soft morning air.  We've been blessed with a sensory feast over the last week.

Our drive to Pagosa Springs included a trip through the Grand Tetons and a roll and stroll through Flaming Gorge.  Magical.  I've a much greater understanding of how it might be possible to be safe in the hand of Almighty God.

Saturday we arrived in Southern Colorado at nearly the same time as Monique's Uncle and Aunt, Gerrits and Susie Kasper.  As if time with them isn't easy and delightful enough, they brought with them a hundred proof bottle of a whiskey blend called Yukon Jack.  There's no tellin what Yukon Jack did as a young boy, but you can bet he was a trouble maker!  

In actuality, the night and the next day were delightful and so six of us and Yukon Jack spent a late evening together and by morning...Yukon Jack had left the building!  None of us were drunk or anything like that and Monique and Dad Huizinga sipped on wine and nibbled cheese throughout the evening, but Ol' Yukon grew up to be a fine companion.

We'd hiked and walked and driven so much since the Lifelight Music Festival in Sioux Falls last weekend already, that we've welcomed the chance to sit down on soft couches in this magnificent and large place here in another part of creation that God smiled upon long ago.

It's Monday morning and I have no idea what's in store for today.  We might go see Chimney Rock a few miles outside of town.  Chimney Rock sets high above the landscape, and somehow has been carved and shaved until the sculpture resembled a giant chimney.  Light a match to it and nothing happens...but it sure looks like a place one could have a cozy fire!  Well, bigfoot or Paul Bunyan could anyway.

I never wrote about Lifelight Music Festival...the thing that began our quest for pieces of Heaven.  The weather was almost perfect while we were there...the wind was a bit high, but the temperature and good fortune held up.  My family camped together in the the New Testament campground and it is a place to find a little refuge when you're sick of walking around or while you wait for the band that suits your fancy.  
The music was awesome, the company of family and friends was delightful.  

So began project "Vacation Alleluia."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Yellowstone Let Us Leave

Monique and I leave Yellowstone National Park today. How do I explain where we’ve been? It’s like marriage in some ways...we simply know that Yellowstone will be with us forever. The earth is hot beneath this paradise and geysers, mudpots and bark turned white from acid reveal a language first spoken two to six miles beneath the earth. We've seen Old Faithful, have been to Firehole Lake and Waterfall We've passed over the Dunraven Pass at Mt. Washburn, and we've been to the Fishing Bridge. We've seen Artist Point and been to the Upper and Lower falls. We've been to the Mud Volcano Area, To Mammoth Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Canyon Junction and we've driven Gull Point Drive. We've hiked for miles, up small mountains, into valleys and even hiked into our own little niche where no one had seem to have been. We've seen wolves, two grizzlies, a black bear, Elk, Prong Horn, Mule Deer, Fox, Coyote, Beaver, Blue Heron, White Pelican, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Peregrine, Bison, Big Horn Sheep, Moose, Ground Squirrel, and more. We've seen the sun rise and set over the mountains...even our quaint little cabin sets pristinely surrounded by mountains. We've touched river, and drove along the 148 mile Yellowstone Lake. We even saw a mound made of travertine material--the hardened make-up of material from a used up geyser...explorers named it "Soda Butte" because it nostalgically reminds visitors of the foamy top of an old-time grape soda. 

We found two radio stations inside the park. This week we’re completely wild. I can see why God said it was good. So very good.

I told Monique that she could do and go wherever she wanted..she found the usual tourist spots, and she found the little, beautiful places no one had seemed to have found.  We're tuckered but she's become and expert Yellowstone guide--a natural.  My one request? We rented a high powered telescope Thursday morning and spent almost 2 hours watching wolves in their habitat, playing, hunting, running, leaping and taunting bison and elk. Exhilarating. While the wolves tracked, we watched buffalo protect themselves.  They gather themselves into one large group and create an unbreakable circle--eyes, horns and two-thousand pound bodies pointed in every direction, formidably banded around the young and the weak ... incredible and Holy.

A coyote pooped on our Yellowstone road the other day...at least I thought it was our road. Then I realized that I can't observe nature in the sense that my pleasure should be derived in controlled settings. Roads are simply everything in between. The road spread into the park and we rolled in.  But nature obeyed their own orders. Yellowstone doesn't suck you in, plug you in, then spit you out...you enter as God wills and leave in the same manner. Yellowstone doesn't leave a mint on your pillow and doesn't lay a welcome card at the door.  Weather, wind, rain, snow, animals in their habitat and coyotes pooping on their own road, dictate time and we squeeze between them, in some place on one side of eternal life.

I'm not sure that pictures are worth a thousand words...I'm not sure we're capable of any. Instead, we capped off these last 4 days with some Huckleberry Truffle Hot Chocolate. I - and we - often find peace amongst words. Last night we found peace in an experience without them. The best thing to do with four days like these are to sip and think.

There are few people here now and I think it's the perfect time to see Yellowstone. The weather has been cool, sometimes blue and perfect -- and sometimes rainy, snowy and perfect.

What I do know is that the sixth sense doesn't have anything to do with seeing dead people. I think the sixth sense allows you to move from trying to soak in all that is, to actually living with it...to pursue experience. The sixth sense is to assemble taste, touch, sound, smell and sight and understand what happened to you as your senses went to work.

She’s got wry wit, Yellowstone does. She stops you in your tracks. She’s pleasant enough, opening her curtains enabling you to experience everything indescribable. It’s true; I don’t know what words I can use to describe Yellowstone. If you’re going forward, she’ll make you double back. If you’re moving, she’ll stop you. I’ve seen lazy rivers...don’t we often say, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”? I’ve said it. But it’s not true. I’ve never seen rivers decorated with what were Lodge Pole Pines, but have now been turned into used match sticks. At first you believe that this landscape has been wrought with fire...until you remember that fire was good for this forest. Fire removed diseased trees and annoying brush. It replenished nutrients in the ground and allowed pine cones to open that would never have opened without the heat of fire, and spread their new, young, fresh and healthy seed over the land and plant themselves.  The seed will eventually grow stumps, branches and leaves.  And they'll replenish and invigorate what was a dying forest.  It turned out that Grizzlies preferred the burned areas because the ground and the new plants contain more nutrients...a chemical reaction borne by fire.  Ironically, forest preservation means that the forest had to change...a paradox maybe? I believe that God simply gave the forest a shower of fire. 

You’ve never seen a lazy river like that.

Frost covered trees cover the hills like a white belt, and one that ties me to them.  Morning crisps cackle underneath my feet.  It seems like the perfect day to leave...the sun is shining. The park that has smiled on us for 4 days grins again, and again, grins wryly. We thought we’d leave peacefully, escaping but with the clothes on our backs and an occasional exhale.  I'd think it a shame to add more than a sigh to this perfect place.  We tried a quiet exit, we did.  A final day, a final road and Yellowstone opened up a tiny meadow amongst the giants and revealed three young Big Horn Sheep nestled inside. We stopped. She presented a mighty bull moose colored in the richest brown, reticent but unrestrained amongst the pines and the river. We stopped. Awe drummed us like sledge hammers.  The Yellowstone road escorted us to a small pasture where Elk roamed. We stopped. Mighty movements couple by our fevered ones.  We closed on them.  

Quiet exit? Another paradox.  Monique prayed and hoped she'd see two more things before we left... Mountain Sheep and Moose.  I don’t believe in chance.  "I Am" says God.

The last three miles, fog rolled in.  Ghostly bison found the road--we waited until they disappeared in the mist on the other side, their path a mystery.  

Like a stage curtain, fog fell behind us. No final bow. We made it to the south exit--finally. All I have left is Alleluia.  I think at the cusp of the South Exit my heart mourned a little... she finally allowed us to leave her.

If you can find a thousand words I'll be impressed.  If you ask me, today I'd rather be still and know.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Wiles of Men and the High Country

We rose into the Big Horn Mountains. Thirteen-thousand and five-hundred feet above sea level. Sunday we hit the lonely road through Rapid City and the Black Hills. It seems the tourists fade into their own home towns and we find where they were in relative serenity.

It was a hot drive Sunday, approximately 100 degrees fahrenheit. Strange thing though--it lasted 54 minutes. That’s what I said--54 minutes. We had lunch on the Sabbath at Applebees a nest of the rugged and city slickers. Twenty miles prior we drove in comfort at Eighty-Seven degrees Fahrenheit. Twenty miles later--ninety-seven degrees. Two miles outside of lunch we saw ninety-nine degrees. Fifty-two miles later...Eighty-eight degrees! I often wonder how many people notice stuff like that.

We drove the Big-Horns, full of rocks and crags, slopes, colors and all brought together by fog and rain. It’s raining...and snowing actually. We experienced a early winter’s dream up there and I’m not sad about that. Rain and snow opens beauty amongst the crags. However, earlier in the morning we stopped at a scene of interest called “The Lost City.” The “city” is actually huge boulders that have actually fallen into the valley over time and look like a city of rock. To us it looked a lot like a blanket of fog but who am I to argue with the experts eh? We’re listening to Blessed Assurance on my IPOD and with the wind and snow and a 10% grade hill I’m glad for the assurance...I’m no mountain man and I don’t pretend to be, but I’m only one tiny part of nature asked to succumb to the wiles of the high country.

Sunday’s drive was significant for me though. We were pushed around on 90 West yesterday. The wind did us few favors but it was a nice day. We had breakfast with Al at his very own Oasis...it’s actually called “Al’s Oasis” and they sell five cent coffee and buffalo steak and eggs if you want it. Anyway, we drove out of Chamberlain, SD and 30 minutes later, off into the horizon, I could make out the top of a giant American Flag, flapping confidently in strong winds. There she was. She rose up over the minutes that ensued and I loved minutes then.

I used to go to ball games. The stadium filled with fans and those who would follow them. The National Anthem appropriately begins every sporting event in the country. I remember a day when every hand crossed each heart, every hat was removed from each head and we sang together. We sang. The great part about a melting pot is that we can make a recipe from monotone, off-tone, harmony and in-tune singers alike. The point is that we know the words. We enjoyed the game, but we rested our eyes on our flag and felt our heart beat together. We could see by the dawn’s early light that the flag with stood a night of anger. Ba-bm, ba-bm. We felt the work of the brave. Ba-bm. Ba-bm. We understood us as we stood, and the pot melted each voice into one. Ba-bm. Ba-bm.

She rose into my horizon one hot Saturday. The wind, like battle beat her but a rip or tear was not to be found. In fact a symbol of these United States of America should reflect unity. If a flag tears don’t we replace it? Symbolically she represents a nation unbroken. If she falls to the ground, honor bears the offense, but tolerates none of it. When a soldier dies, she is folded without wrinkle, without carelessness. Each corner matches the other, each fold tucked perfectly. We measure that event over years, not days. Many thousands of families have received this gift presented to them using a time-honored method so that we would always know where we came from and why. My fight never included the armed-forces and for good reason...my handicap doesn’t allow me to bear arms within the armed forces. Therefore, I choose to fight for her by knowing who we are together and why you went to battle for her. Some of you came home to alive but without pomp and circumstance...almost a non-event. My dad wears his “Vietnam Veteren” cap often. Another vet crossed his path one day and simply said “welcome home brother.”

He’ll never forget how quiet it was the day he came home. Oh I wish we all had such courage.

I’m angered by those who disparage this country and her leaders with such hate and vitriol. They give our enemies less work to do in their quest to destroy who and what we are. I bear the offense but tolerate none of it. Some of us wouldn’t mind becoming like the rest of the world. Our ancestors spent many lives preparing a nation that wasn’t like the rest of the world.

She rose up, untattered and untorn. She ardently stretched before us and the wind seemed to know she should. I’ll find her in every border I cross within her...”Welcome Home” she says.

We’re driving through state borders without a thought because we know we can. We’re separated by accent, landscape, industry. A woman told her husband yesterday, “Honey, we gotta get shuckin!” Monique would simply tell me it’s time to leave. But the lady and I had one thing in common...the United States of America. Wyoming teenagers at lunch near Cody still say “cool” and “scam me some Ketchup please?” South Dakota boys understand that language. We cross borders and we cross each other and we’re happy to do it.

I love my vacation thus far. Yellowstone enfolds over two million acres. There are animals galore. Some use up acres and acres like wolves and elk, but others like the chipmunk may only use four or five dozen feet worth of this amazing, indescribable, awe inspiring part of the United States. I’m proud to know where I live and how I do it.

The stadiums still fill with fans and those who would follow them. But a few precious "stars" are now given the honor of singing our National Anthem, and a precious few of us sing along.

What is a nation without her song? The brave still know the words.

The enemy doesn’t run from a man and his gun. The enemy runs from the power of one.

For another perspective, see: http://iowaharleygirl.blogspot.com/2008/09/ipg-showed-up-at-sturgis.html.